Traffic statistics demonstrate that accidents are significantly more likely at night than in daylight. Automotive manufacturers and their Tier 1 supplier partners are addressing this issue by developing multiple solutions.Brighter forward lighting that does not dazzle other drivers has been improving for years via High Intensity Discharge or Xenon lamps and automatic high-low beams. Emerging LED technology will allow even more design freedom. And now night vision appears set for steady if not spectacular growth.
Night vision installations will grow from 103,000 worldwide (valued at $373 million) in 2010 to 1.7 million (about $5 billion) in 2016.
“Night vision has always been considered an interesting but expensive luxury feature,” says ABI Research principal analyst David Alexander, “although when the second generation went into production in 2008, it included pedestrian detection. Development has continued since then to add more capabilities, and we expect future versions to be able to identify other types of moving obstacle such as dogs and deer.”
Availability is still limited to high-end luxury brands, but has been broadened to more models in the last 12 months. Both active and passive versions of the technology are gradually attracting customers. The automatic pedestrian detection warning is particularly valuable when driving on unlit roads, and can also sometimes help to highlight concealed people in the daytime.
“Adaptive headlights are another aid for night driving,” says research director Larry Fisher. “This feature uses sensors to determine when the vehicle is entering a curve, and provides angled illumination so that the driver can see further than with conventional headlights that shine straight ahead.”
Adaptive headlights and night vision are not strictly competing with each other as they each provide unique benefits to nighttime driving safety. Adaptive headlights will be available on a much wider range of models than night vision, so volumes will be higher. The greater unit cost of night vision will mean the overall market value will be similar.
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